No lack of love for Placer’s Linarez

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Give Geno Linarez a hat, and he’d wear it.
Whether it was coaching softball at Placer High, helping out with the girls basketball program, volunteering to assist the green and gold on the football field or coaching Auburn Little League, Linarez was your man.
One of Placer’s most beloved figures is fighting a losing battle with liver cancer. Teammates and friends from his days as a Placer student flooded the Linarez home this week, along with dozens of current and former Hillmen and Lady Hillmen. They all wanted to express thanks to a man that injected joy into Auburn’s gyms and play fields.
“He’s just such a positive person, every girl that played for him loved him,” Placer High girls basketball coach Tony Camillucci said. “He had a special knack for making everyone feel important.”
The Lady Hillmen wore a “G” on their jerseys Thursday night in their victory over Center at Earl Crabbe Gym. After the game several players and coaches walked across the street to high-five their beloved coach Linarez.
He planned on helping Malcom Means coach Placer’s freshmen this season, but cancer intervened. Camillucci said he could always rely on Linarez for a favor, a warm smile and a word of encouragement. His enthusiasm was contagious.
“At the freshman level he made every kid love Placer basketball,” Camillucci said. “He was famous for giving nicknames to all the kids and he had little sayings, like “Get yours!” He really cracked the girls up. He was invaluable to our program. If you needed anything, he would do it. He was all Placer.”
Linarez saw his three children: Angela, 25, Rachel, 21, and Toney, 18, all graduate from Placer. He was born in Auburn, given the name Eugene Paul Linarez. As he became a fixture in ARD sports and at Placer, it was just Geno.
He founded the Miss October Softball Tournament, an annual event at Auburn’s Little League field that gives women the chance to swing for the fences like Reggie Jackson of his beloved New York Yankees. The tournament has raised thousands of dollars for ARD’s Youth Assistance Fund.
That event may soon bear his name according to Linarez’s longtime friend Pete Dufour. Camillucci plans to honor Linarez as well. He said the Lady Hillmen Classic hoops tourney would be named the Coach G Invitational starting next season.
Those are fitting tributes for a man that gave so much time and energy to Auburn sports and had a positive impact on hundreds of young athletes in our community.
Todd Mordhorst’s column runs Sundays in the Journal.